Kelly Clarkson has been traveling the country this summer on her Piece By Piece Tour, stopping breaths and skipping hearts along the way. This weekend was no exception in Nashville, Tennessee, as Kelly returned home to perform in front of her friends, family, and fans at Bridgestone Arena.
The tour, sponsored by Cricket Wireless, may be the most extravagant of Kelly’s in her career, complete with a stage with moving parts and a catwalk that extends to the center of the audience, culminating in a heart-shaped secondary stage that puts the superstar in the midst of the excitement. In typical Kelly fashion, pregnant or not, the unaffected and always humble thirteen-year recording artist danced her way (barefoot) all over the main stage, down the catwalk, and on the supplementary stage with the energy of an eager newcomer and the professionalism of an experienced concert veteran.
Perhaps some of that energy was received from the audience, which had been prepped and pumped by opening acts Abi Ann, Eric Hutchinson, and Grammy Award winning a cappella superstars Pentatonix. While each of the openers played a vital role in getting and keeping the crowd on its feet, Pentatonix unsurprisingly showed that it should be, could be, and would be its own headlining act soon enough, wowing the audience with its covers, originals, and unquestionably raw and unique talents.
However, it was the headliner who captivated the audience for her full set, making sure nobody took his or her seat throughout the whole show — even during her piano-only accompanied section. Kicking off the show with a song off her latest album, Piece By Piece, Kelly told the audience to “Dance with Me,” soon thereafter promising that the set list would be complete with new songs, old hits, and fan favorites; and the Grammy Award winner did not disappoint. Kelly conscientiously included songs from almost every album (“My December” was noticeably unrepresented), successfully intertwining past and present, never allowing fans’ interest to dwindle for a moment.
Also a staple at Kelly Clarkson shows is her ability to ramble hilariously, while somehow always finding her way back to the introduction of the next song. In Nashville alone, Kelly informed the crowd that she is “pregnant” and “knocked up again,” explaining that she and her husband, music manager Brandon Blackstock, “do it good.” Somehow that led into “Dark Side” off her Stronger album, and as the music began, the audience’s laughter faded away, proving that Kelly is fully capable of taking a musical concert, turning it into a comedy show, and returning to the task at hand like nobody else.
The humor did not stop there, as Kelly also took the opportunity when it arose to hit on a dad in the eighth row of the audience, chalking her behavior up to her pregnancy and simply admitting “I say really inappropriate things.” As she continued to traverse down the catwalk, she strutted her stuff and segued flawlessly into the Brett James penned hit “Mr. Know It All.”
In every Kelly Clarkson show, fans anticipate two specific portions that have become permanent fixtures in her plan — the stripped down piano versions of known tracks and the fan request. As the stage separated into two sections, closing the band off from the audience, Kelly remained with her musical director, Jason Halbert, on piano and captured the hearts of the tens of thousands inside the arena with a beautiful adaptation of her track “Piece By Piece.” A song that is deep-rooted for Kelly as it sings of a father who abandons a child, only to return when he needs something once she has become successful, the singer became choked up and turned her back to the fans. Luckily for Kelly, the song turns itself around, as did she, during the final chorus when she is able to share how wonderful the man she loves is and how he would never leave their daughter. Again, the moment indicated Kelly’s on-stage adaptability and relatability, showcasing her connection to each lyric of every song, emoting, and recovering to continue entertaining her fans.
Because it was Nashville, Kelly had a few special things up her sleeve, including the fan request for the evening. Rather than fulfilling a fan’s request, she fulfilled her own, choosing to sing Bonnie Raitt‘s “Love Me Like a Man.” Kelly has more than proven she can sing anything and mesmerize onlookers, and her rendition of one of her favorite songs was no exception. Immediately following her cover, she announced a surprise, bringing Pentatonix back out on stage and having the group accompany her on “Heartbeat Song” (the video for which is embedded below). And the cameos did not stop there…
Kelly and her backup singers then entered into a seamless mashup of one of her favorites in her catalog, “Walk Away,” and Bruno Mars‘ hit song “Uptown Funk.” Kelly marched down the catwalk and prompted the audience to respond to her when she asked if we had heard of Seth Blackstock. Her adorable eight-year-old stepson, Seth, then joined her on stage, leading half the audience in an “Uptown Funk you up, I said Uptown Funk you up!” chant, while Kelly’s half sang “Walk Away.” The family affair was the perfect way to end the main set list, as Kelly exited the stage with her son to prepare for her encore.
The encore began with Kelly’s three stellar background vocalists slaying “Bang Bang” by Ariana Grande, Jessie J, and Nicki Minaj, with Kelly later joining to begin the three-song finale. Wrapping up her spectacular show with “Miss Independent” and “Since U Been Gone,” Kelly encouraged crowd participation, threatening to throw her microphone at anybody she didn’t see singing. Guess who won that battle!
The Piece By Piece Tour stop in Nashville, Tennessee was an incredible night, filled with fun, humor, class, swear words, and breathtaking, unparalleled vocals. As someone who has been attending Kelly’s shows for the entire thirteen years of her career, it can safely be said that this tour is more phenomenal than any tour in the past, as it creates nostalgia for the early days of a simple rug on the floor as decor, while showing longtime supporters how far their down-to-earth girl has come. Kelly Clarkson is, as always, a true superstar whose incomparable voice has no boundaries, with a stage presence that is enrapturing, and a sense of comedic timing and audience involvement that is unlike any other.
Thank you to Cricket Wireless for a wonderful evening, filled with laughter, music, and memories to last a lifetime. We definitely had “Something to Smile About” (#STSA) nonstop! The Piece By Piece Tour still has a few more United States stops before heading to Canada and overseas. Click here to see the remaining worldwide dates.
Watch Kelly Clarkson and Pentatonix perform “Heartbeat Song”: